Beautiful engraved specimen certificate from the New York Hippodrome
dated in 1905. This historic document was printed by Franklin Lee Bank Note Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of the New York State seal. This item is over 102 years old. The top looks cut in the scan because there are 39 coupons attached on top. The bond is in excellent condition.
The New York Hippodrome was a theatre in New York City which closed on August 16, 1939.
With J. H. Morgan as architect, the Hippodrome first opened in 1905 with a seating capacity of 5,200, and is still considered as one of the true wonders of theatre architecture. Its stage was 12 times larger than any Broadway "legit" house and capable of holding as many as 1,000 performers at a time, or a full-sized circus with elephants and horses. It also had an 8,000-gallon clear glass water tank that could be raised from below the stage by hydraulic pistons for swimming-and-diving shows.
The glory years
For a time the Hippodrome was the largest and most successful theater in New York. The Hippodrome featured lavish spectacles complete with circus animals, diving horses, opulent sets, and 500-member choruses. Until the end of WWI, the Hippodrome housed all sorts of spectacles then switched to musical extravaganzas produced by Charles Dillingham, including "Better Times," which ran for more than 400 performances.
When Dillingham left in 1923 to pursue other interests, the Hippodrome was leased to Keith-Albee, which hired Thomas Lamb to turn it into a vaudeville theatre by building a much smaller stage and discarding all of its unique features. The most popular vaudeville artists of the day, including illusionist Harry Houdini, performed at the Hippodrome during its heyday. Others might vanish rabbits, but in 1918, on the brightly-lit stage of the Hippodrome, Houdini made a 10,000-pound elephant disappear. He created a sensation. When Houdini fired a pistol, Jennie vanished from view.
Decline and fall
In 1922, the elephants that graced the stage of the Hippodrome since its opening moved uptown to the Bronx's Royal Theater. On arrival, stage worker Miller Renard recalled, the elephants were greeted with extraordinary fanfare:
The next day the Borough President gives them a dinner on the lawn of the Chamber of Commerce up on Tremont Avenue, with special dinner menus for the elephants. It was some show to see all those elephants march up those steps to the table where each elephant had a bail of hay. The[n], the Borough President welcomes the elephants to the Bronx, and the place is just mobbed with people. And that was the worst week's business we ever done in that theatre.
In 1925, movies were added to the vaudeville, but within a few years, competition from the newer and more sumptuous movie palaces in the Broadway-Times Square area forced Keith-Albee-Orpheum, which was merged into RKO by May 1928, to sell the theatre. Several attempts to use the Hippodrome for plays and operas failed, and it remained dark until 1935, when producer Billy Rose leased it for his spectacular Rodgers & Hart circus musical, Jumbo, which received favorable reviews but lasted only five months due to the Great Depression.
After that, the Hippodrome sputtered through bookings of late-run movies, boxing, wrestling, and Jai Lai games before being demolished in 1939 as the value of real estate on Sixth Avenue began to escalate. Unfortunately, the start of World War II delayed re-development, and the Hippodrome site remained vacant until 1952, when it was taken over for a combination office building and parking garage.
History from Wikipedia and OldCompanyResearch.com.
Specimen Certificates are actual certificates that have never been issued. They were usually kept by the printers in their permanent archives as their only example of a particular certificate. Sometimes you will see a hand stamp on the certificate that says "Do not remove from file".
Specimens were also used to show prospective clients different types of certificate designs that were available. Specimen certificates are usually much scarcer than issued certificates. In fact, many times they are the only way to get a certificate for a particular company because the issued certificates were redeemed and destroyed. In a few instances, Specimen certificates we made for a company but were never used because a different design was chosen by the company.
These certificates are normally stamped "Specimen" or they have small holes spelling the word specimen. Most of the time they don't have a serial number, or they have a serial number of 00000. This is an exciting sector of the hobby that grown in popularity over the past several years.